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Friday, July 26, 2013

Kicking Comparison and Condemnation to the Curb!

What does a typical day around here look like? Hmmm....that is hard to say. We have been in an odd season the last 2 1/2 years, the majority of our homeschool years. If we have learned NOTHING else, (oh, but we have), it is to remain flexible. To not be caught into a "time" or "schedule" trap. I almost think my girls have learned more this summer since putting the "formal" curriculum away, than they did much of the year.

They enjoy writing, painting, drawing, math, and sign language. They like to read as well, but they prefer the former things better. 

We have been on a "temporary assignment" for my husband's job for the last 2 1/2 years. It started as a one year assignment, and kept getting stretched. The flexibility part? We may not know until a couple of weeks before hand if we are staying here or returning home 500 miles away. We are a family of 6 and we have a lot of STUFF.

We are "night owls." Consider it a curse or a blessing, I'm not sure. Even when the boys were in public school, it was so hard to wake them early and they were groggy and hard to get motivated. Both my husband and I spent YEARS on nightshift, both of us usually pulling 12 hour shifts. My "clock" has yet to reset to what some call normal, even though it has been almost 3 years since I have worked as a Registered Nurse. My son's medical condition requires him to get as much sleep as possible--sleep deprivation tends to cause problems with his seizures.

Furthermore, especially as me being a nurse, how do I know that God will assign them a typical 9-5 job?!? Hospitals don't only run on dayshift. Factories and many stores don't either. He could send them halfway around the world where time zones are different as well. The point of this? Each family is different. I have had to swallow this myself. I long to be a morning person. I have good intentions and all. However, my "best" thinking, as well as my best time alone with the Lord, is at night. Call it years of nightshift in the ER. Call it the way I was made-I have always been like this since I can remember. The same is true for my oldest. His "best" is in the evening. His brother usually goes to sleep sooner, and wakes up earlier than some of us. That is perfect for him. He is almost 13. Many of his "independent" subjects can be done on his own during that time.

I see so much judgement and condemnation upon those who don't rise early. Who don't have "quiet" time in the morning. Who don't follow a "typical" school schedule. You know what? I prayed years ago for God to give me a time to be able to focus on Him, to spend time with Him. To carve that time out during the day. I was praying it wasn't at night-at that time my husband was on night shift, I had many fears, and I wanted to get to sleep as soon as possible to make the daylight come again. Guess what? It was during those still hours of the night, when most of the world was asleep and quiet, that I found the time I was looking for. That I learned so much and spent much more time with Him, unburdened by a "to do" list in my head....everything was finished for the day.

Our homeschool isn't typical by any means. And yet, that is the beauty of it. I have no idea what plans God has for each of these kids. I "learned" to rise early for jobs, one at 5 am and one at 6 am, and one at 7 am. I didn't perform well in my opinion, hence the inward joy, but outward grumbling, to be placed on night shift. I am thankful that I don't have to work outside of the home now, but that "night" personality has served me well.

Don't get stuck in the comparison trap about what your homeschool schedule OR your quiet time should look like. Trust even those seemingly small things to the Lord. David and Joshua meditated day AND night. Read the Psalms...David cried out to Him during the night too. Don't impose rules on yourself or your homeschool or you are setting yourself up for failure and aggravation. Abide in Him. Lean on Him. Seek His direction for your EVERY step.

And the condemnation? Throw it to the curb. It's unBiblical anyway. 

B.O.W. Discussion Day!!

I hope you are enjoying Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. It has been like a breath of fresh air to see someone share their testimony and encouragement in this beautiful calling of motherhood! Some days it is hard girls, real hard. But remember, with the Lord by your side, you can do this. We have so many modern conveniences these days, that I imagine many of our great-grandparents would giggle at a title of a book like this. Maybe even our grandparents. The problem with our 'modern conveniences'? They have turned us into an 'on demand' society. Impatient. Must be entertained. Must be something better out there. NO! God calls children a blessing, and He even says that they are a reward from Him. The beauty of this book is in developing a community with other moms, as well as seeking out older women mentors (Titus 2 style).

Today is the day to share! Share your favorite quotes, your favorite parts of the video, answers to the questions, or whatever the Lord lays on your heart.

Here were a few quotes that really stood out to me:

"Many of my ideals were good, but the standard I set for myself to meet them was completely unrealistic." 
"The reason it hurt so much when I couldn't live up to my ideal was because I had imposed an impossible standard on myself." (p. 5)

Let that sink in ladies. We are in a more competitive world than ever. TV, blogs, books, friends, and social media. Comparison trap. While many of these outlets mean well, especially blogs and books, it can cause us to question ourselves and the unique qualities God gave us as a mom. We try to copy someone else hoping for a better outcome or a better life. Not going to happen. We should take suggestions, that is what mentoring is all about, but we should never compare ourselves to anyone. The nasty sin of coveting rears it's ugly head before we even know it. 

Something that we, as mothers, should do daily is found on page 9. Pray, "Lord, teach me how to be a mother." because "each of us has a story, but God, who originated the design of motherhood, is the expert advisor to whom we should turn." And, in doing that, "He will provide all we need for the task He has given us to fulfill. But to hear from God we must become women of the Word and women who pray, so that His voice may lead us as we grow into this role with grace." 
Wow! We MUST be women of the Word, and women of prayer. My grandmother is the most godly woman I know. She has lived her life in the Word and on her knees. Is she perfect? No-she is human. But, she knows where to turn for everything. Her prayers have covered many of us for years and I always swore that when she walked in the room, it was like God came with her (this was before I became a Christian). Her prayers, and her love for the Word, wore off on me. I learned more from watching her than I ever did by anything she ever spoke to me. Same with my mom. I remember coming home many nights to see her sitting at the kitchen table, elbow deep in her Bible and study tools. I remember being prayed for over an earache. A toothache. A staying out late problem. These women persevered in prayer for me and modeled a life of loving the Word. 

Question time!!! I want to hear from you. Did you write down your fears and write a prayer, giving those fears to the Lord? 

My prayer was rather lengthy, and we are currently doing a study with Online Bible Studies on praying Scripture, so imagine my delight as I put pen to paper and several verses poured out.

Share your favorite quotes, answers to the questions, prayer or whatever stood out the most to you. What the Lord spoke to you about during this time..................

Thursday, July 25, 2013

B.O.W. Fun day!!

Hopefully you have had time to absorb some of the wonderful teaching and mentoring from Sally Clarkson, via reading Chapter One, and the videos from yesterday. If you are behind, no worries! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other! We will be discussing the questions in the back, along with favorite quotes, tomorrow.

Today? FUN DAY! Let's find some fun things to do with our kiddos!

The first one here is a Bible handprint calendar:

From the website: 

"Children love to see their hand prints on 
paper, and these handprint calendars have 
a bible verse with a colorful themed 
handprint for every month."

You can find the link to this craft here.

Speaking of handprints, here is another one to try:

This Handprint Angel can be found here.

How about a fun and easy recipe that the kiddos can make themselves? Try a Jif Fluff sandwich!! Not very healthy, and not good for those with peanut allergies, but it looks like it is pretty easy for kiddos! You can substitute it with whatever brand that you have!

The recipe can be found here.

Your turn to share! Share some fun recipes, craft ideas, etc. with us! Be sure to share the link or book if you get it from another source besides yourself. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

B.O.W. Video Day!

Hello friends! By this point, I hope you have been able to read through much of Chapter 1 in Desperate. What an amazing book! Such wise advice for those seeking community, friendship, encouragement and a mentor!

Today is the day to watch the video from Chapter One. Listed on the very last page is a QR code, or for those of you with an ebook, it also lists a website. Both of these link you to a YouTube video, 2-3 minutes each, with Sarah Mae and Sally sharing.

We assigned the Introduction video on Sunday, and wow! There was some great advice in that video. What stood out the most to me, besides the part about needing an older woman to  come alongside of us was this:

Don't read this book alone. The heart of it is community and mentorship. (paraphrased).

You will find even more information in the Chapter 1 video. One thing there that I want to point out, is also mentioned in the book.

God is the true beginning point. (paraphrased)

When we feel our days are long, when we can't seem to go another minute, when we don't even know where to start each day.........God is the true beginning point. You are the mom that your kids need. God designed you and made you....He will help you!

You don't need an "Instruction Manual" for raising your kids. Good books are just that-good books. Something that helped someone maybe made different than you. They are good to use--we use and read them--but remember, God and His Word are the ultimate authority on parenting. His Word is FULL of advice on parenting. We can read books for encouragement, and maybe the Holy Spirit will place in your heart to "try" something. But remember--that book is for what worked for THAT parent, THAT child, and not all of us are alike. However, God's Word is unchanging, it is living and active, and He is the creator of parents as well as children.

Seriously. Get a concordance out and search: Parent, mother, father, children, etc. You will be amazed what you find. I also have a Thompson Chain Bible that has a topical index in the back that shows me where to search for parenting advice. It is listed under: Home.

Looking forward to our discussion of Chapter One on Friday! There are some amazing verses in the back; let them sink deep into your heart.

Have you ever searched the Word for parenting advice?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Built on Wisdom Assignments!

It's finally here! Time to start encouraging one another in this blessed calling of motherhood. Time to learn to seek out mentors, both online and in real life. Following is the schedule for the first week.

Saturday~ Begin reading today. Start with the Introduction, pg. xv, ""I Can't Be a Mother Today". Find out where Sarah was and how she came to "meet" and be mentored by Sally. This is a short read. In the very back, there is a QR code if you have a smart phone/tablet, and a website if you don't, to watch a short introductory video by Sarah and Sally. 
Continue reading through all of Chapter One this whole week and answer the questions/focus on the Scriptures given in the back of the book.

Monday~ Encouraging/Mentoring Monday. On this day, I will refer you to a source of great encouragement in your God given blessing of motherhood. Soak it in. See what these Titus 2 ladies can speak into your heart. I will also share advice, tips, and memories from my own mentors from time to time...and will ask you to do the same!!

Wednesday~On the very last page of Chapter One, is another QR Code/website that takes you to a short video discussing Chapter One. Today would be an ideal day to watch it.

Thursday~ SHARE away! Today is the day for you to share FUN, EASY stuff. Craft ideas to do with the kiddos, recipes, and anything else you can think of. This gives you time to get needed supplies for the weekend. Again, optional. Share a picture with us if you would like! All that I ask, is if you use an outside source-meaning you did not 'create' the recipe/craft, etc., that you give proper credit to the book/blog/site/author and if possible, share the link.

Friday~ Today and Saturday, we will be talking about what we are learning. We will be discussing quotes, the answers to the questions in the back of each chapter, and the Scriptures given. Can't wait to hear from you!

Feel free to share, all week long, what you are learning and/or what stood out to you. Don't get overwhelmed and don't try to "do it all." Follow God's leading in this journey. Don't fret if you get behind, catch up later and stay current with us. I pray this is a peaceful journey, not one full of stress. Blessings to you!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Built on Wisdom (B.O.W.) Introduction to Desperate

Welcome to our little corner of the world!! I am so excited to start reading this book with you. I pray that you grow closer to Jesus, to your children, develop friendships, and feel encouraged. Since I started homeschooling, and staying home with my children almost three years ago, I have been an avid reader of the wonderful inspiration of Sally Clarkson. You don't have to be a homeschooler to enjoy the beautiful writing of this lady. Her encouragement is amazing. She also travels and speaks if you catch her at a venue nearby!

Written together with Sarah Mae, (love her blog too), this book was written with us weary moms in mind. From the back cover:

Motherhood turns you inside out. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel; the days go on and on, and you want to be a "good" mom, but you feel like a failure so much of the time. What happened to all your ideals? When did you end up feeling so....lost?

This is a beautiful story of an older woman following the example set forth in Titus 2:3-5. As Sarah describes in the introduction, Sally actually pursued her. What follows is this beautiful book, where Sarah and Sally take turns sharing glimpses of their letters back and forth, intermixed with their story told by each one's point of view. In the back of each chapter, and the introduction, you will find a QR code and a web address if you don't have a smart phone/tablet. This links to a beautiful short video with these two amazing ladies. The end of each chapter also has Bible verses, encouragement and "assignments."

The blog post with the schedule is found here. For ease of use, I will re-post it here as well. The study starts Friday, July 19th!! 

  • Saturday- Assignments day. We will be going through 1 chapter/week so you don't miss out on "real life" opportunities to put what you are reading into practice.
  • Monday- Occasionally Sally has a fabulous series on her blog called "Mentoring Mondays." Although I haven't seen many posts lately, I will either link that here or send you to another "mentoring" blog for encouragement. 
  • Wednesday- I mentioned the link/QR code in the back of each chapter. This is the day that I will recommend you watch that video, or you can wait until you finish the chapter if you fall behind.
  • Thursdays- FUN DAY! Your turn to share too! Easy craft ideas, recipes, tips, etc. This gives you plenty of time to get what you need for the weekend. This is optional, but makes for fun times with your kids!
  • Friday- Today we will dive into discussing the book and Bible verses. Write your answers down in your book, notebook, etc. Write the verses out as well-imprint them on your heart. You can also use a Dictionary, Commentary, or tools at Study Light to help you dig deeper into the word. Some days, it may lead to a topical study, etc. You can also personalize them by inserting your name into them.

Can't wait to begin!!

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish one pulls it down with her hands.
~Proverbs 14:1

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Teach Them to Your Children

During our current study, Cultivating a Heart of Prayer by Wendy Blight, we have been focusing on many verses and on prayer in general. Last week we discussed what it meant to "abide" in Christ. This week, we looked at how "abiding" in Him actually controls our prayer lives as well. Our hearts will want to line up with God's will, will want to glorify Him, and will want to know Him more. We also discussed praying for a specific situation in our lives. Our homeschool is always one of the front requests in my mind.

We looked at several verses. These two stood out the most to me, probably because I am a homeschool mom. I try to seek God's will each year for our homeschool. What His plans are for my children. What He wants them to learn. He has created each one of them for a specific purpose. For anyone else who has ever embarked on this fascinating journey, let me tell you, it can be so hard at times. Can I really teach my kids? Can I really prepare them for life? Many of my thoughts, and at times prayers, have went like this, "I am a nurse! How can I possibly teach Geometry?" But then God....often reminds me that He called me to do this and that I am not alone in this. These verses were some of the many He has spoken into my heart over the years. Often.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 instructs me to teach my children His commands. His life giving, life changing words. This passage tells me to talk of them all the time. That is what we do in our school. In Science, He isn't just another "theory", rather He is the Creator. In History, we study His Story, as well as other world events. In music? We learn to "sign", basic Christian doctrine--my 4 and 6 year old girls are currently obsessed with sign language.

Deuteronomy 11:18-20? The same thing.

It was amazing that I had been praying over a few curriculum choices, and extreme fear arose over my oldest son who is now going into 10th grade, yet God reminded me yet again, with these same verses, to trust Him. To teach them about Him. He would take care of the rest. And, He has. Time and again He has shown up in ways that I couldn't even imagine. Academically as well.

 One Scripture verse that I have prayed over my children for years, even before we began homeschooling but is even more pertinent now, is this: 

Isaiah 54:13~ All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. (NKJV)

It is my prayer that He teaches them and that He gives them great peace.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What GOOD Are You Giving Up?

And Jesus answered and said to her, 
"Martha, Martha, you are worried
and troubled about many things.
But one thing is needed, and Mary has 
chosen that good part, which will not be 
taken away from her."
(Luke 10:41-42 NKJV)

We have been studying Mary and Martha for quite a while now at OBS. That isn't the only place I have heard it either. A sermon at church, a sermon on the radio, and in personal readings. Going through my favorite Goodwill bookstore, I kept stumbling upon books about Martha and Mary. A teaching post I did for our last OBS, Stressed-Less Living, was on Mary and Martha. Last week's blog for Cultivating a Heart of Prayer was on Mary and Martha. And you know what, the more I ponder and read on these two, the more that I learn. New layers; new depth; new insights. It's as if the Lord keeps putting them in my path for a reason.

This week is no different. Something Wendy said in the video about John 15:4-5, really struck me. The whole discussion on "abiding" struck me. Forgive me as I paraphrase--I take notes in shorthand from my days as both a Secretary and Registered Nurse. It doesn't say how many times a day, what it is about, how it is done-it is about connecting with and PASSIONATELY pursuing Him. PERIOD. Then came the conference call. More words spoken into my heart about what I felt had already been "tugging" on my heart. Again, I paraphrase here. Spend time with Him. Doesn't matter how or when. Even if you miss a couple days. It's a relationship day to day. He just wants us. It doesn't matter how "perfect" it is. 

And, oh, doesn't this look like Mary's heart? At the feet of her Savior and Lord--passionately pursuing Him. It didn't matter to her what it "looked" like. It didn't occur to her to go through "much" preparation before drawing from Him. She is the perfect image of "abiding." As Wendy discussed the vine and the branches, here we see Mary getting her nourishment from THE flesh. Martha was worried about preparing, getting everything right, everything perfect. Mary? Came as she was.....and Jesus said that she had chosen the good part. 

I have been involved in leading Bible studies in some form or fashion for the last 2 years. It is a huge passion of mine. I LOVE to surround myself with my Study Bible, Life Application Bible, a commentary, and a Greek/Hebrew/Aramic dictionary. I love to have the house perfectly quiet. I love to have my highlighters, my pens, devotionals, my notebooks, my phone (for YouVersion of course), and so on. I even took a Seminary class last fall. I don't say this to brag, but I say this to show you it can happen to all of us. But what happened? Why did I "take a break?" And what GOOD thing am I giving up? Hmmm...

I became Martha. Frenzied. Panicked. Hurrying to get my stuff out, for what I thought (sadly), was "appropriate" everyday Bible study. The right way to do it, you know? After lugging out all of my goodies, I would crack open my Bible and BOOM! One of my 4 children, or possibly two, would wake up. WHAT?!? I only read one verse!! Now I have to put it all away so the little ones don't tear it up. Or worse--my beloved "Family Bible" bares the marks of a black marker scattered through a lot of Genesis. No small marks either. Marks as in colored in-can't read the words type marks. I became unsettled; agitated; "troubled" about many things-primarily my lack of a "quiet time." Which in turn, set the tone for the day. Even though I may have had an amazing night of study the night before, I was thrown off by my lack of being a morning person. Where was the love? The abiding? Why was I so set in my ways?

And then I remember....I go back, in my mind, to the days long ago. Almost four years ago. To the days when it seemed as if everywhere I turned I could "see" Jesus. Sweet fellowship. Talking to Him all day. Singing and humming Worship Songs as I went about my daily tasks. Hungry for Him and hungry for His Word. Receiving "God sap", as Wendy puts it, in abundance-I couldn't seem to read enough of His Word. Where did I go wrong? 

Then slowly, I look around me and realize...It doesn't matter WHAT it looks like, it only matters that I am passionately pursuing Him. I had lost that desire through "much doing" and not enough being. I would go hours without talking to Him except to throw up a "Dear Lord Jesus, please help me", (we homeschool our kiddos), or a short prayer for a friend. It became rote. Mandatory. Checking it off my list. I had never really heard much about "quiet time" during the former period. I just wanted to be with Jesus. Didn't matter when or how, I just wanted to be with Him. Whenever I could.

So now...what GOOD thing am I giving up to get BETTER with Jesus? My preconceived notion about what "quiet time" should look like. And no longer pursuing a "quiet time", but rather pursuing an ongoing, daily, moment to moment relationship with the Lord of my life.

My Lord, full of grace, truth, and  compassion, loves me. No matter what season I am in. Four years ago I wasn't homeschooling. He understands that. Four years ago, I had a baby that slept all day, a toddler that was content to play alone for a little while and napped as well. Two boys in public school. Four years ago, I wasn't involved in ministry. This is a new season in my life and God understands that, and for whatever reason--He loves me. However, much is to be learned about that season four years ago that CAN be applied today. I don't have to be so "methodical" all the time. I can sit at His feet, whether by "talking" to Him all day and just picking up my Bible and reading, or by deeper study as time allows. It doesn't have to look the same everyday. I just have to "abide." As Wendy said, abiding is "continuing in a permanent state." I can continually communicate with Him, and I can continually draw from matter what it looks like. 

Jennifer Newsom
OBS Executive/Teaching Teams

Friday, July 12, 2013

B.O.W. Countdown Begins!!

AND....the countdown begins! One week away from our study of Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. This book is available for purchase as an ebook, on Amazon, and in most Barnes and Noble or Lifeway bookstores. Look under Sally Clarkson to find it. Even if you don't have a Kindle or smart phone, you can download the Kindle app on your computer for free here.

The schedule can be found here. We will kick-off the study Friday, July 19th, with an introduction to the book and to each other. Then, on Saturday, the reading schedule/assignments, (one chapter a week), will be posted.

I am so excited about this! Just last night, I was on my way home from the store listening to a program on the radio. They were talking about older women mentors and how we should search for them. 

This was a VITAL part of the early church/early Biblical days. Community. Women helping women and growing together as godly wives, mothers, and closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our culture today demands far too many women to work, and far too many people retreating to the world of social media because these "real life" women are hard to find. What a wonderful revival it would be in our churches, if we women went back to these days! To not have to do this thing alone.

Many of us look up to our mom's to fill this role. That is wonderful! When I lived in my hometown, I did just that with my mom and my grandma. But now? I'm over 500 miles away from them both and feel sorely isolated. I attended a wonderful program our church put on last year called "Apples of Gold" which is all about mentoring/Titus 2 women. However, I got a bad case of bronchitis and 3 weeks of bedrest (which I modified ha ha). I am also shy about walking up to random strangers and saying, "Will you mentor me?"

So, what do we do? How have you found a mentor in your life? What do you do when you move away from yours, and although you have many by phone/text/internet, you crave that "real life" component? Share with us!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

B.O.W. Club and Guest Post Recipe!

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? Yeah, I think I am getting close to having one of those years! We started this club strong with so many good intentions. And then? LIFE happened. That's the beauty of it. It's real and it's everyday life. 

We have gotten off track a little here. Some disturbing news, a move on the horizon very soon, homeschool planning, gearing up for another study at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor where I am honored to volunteer, a new baby cousin arriving with a LONG wait period, and a new niece that could come any day. Phew. That wears me out lol.

So excuse the infrequent posts as of late. Yesterday, we decided to call it a day and throw some chicken tenders into the oven. I asked my son, age 12, to make his "famous" Honey Mustard. He got the original recipe off the back of a box, but doesn't remember exact measurements, he experiments. I had him watch himself and measure each thing out so that he could type this up for you. It is really good!!

Honey Mustard dipping sauce:

Hey, I'm back! And I'm ready to share my recipe with you. Here is what you need: 

2 Tablespoons of mustard

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

2 teaspoons of honey

This recipe is very simple. Just mix all three together till smooth!

What kinds of things do your kids like to make? Do you ever find them "taking a spin" on a regular recipe and making it their own?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

B.O.W. Discussion and Giveaway!

Oh, mercy! It has been a busy month! Sorry it has been so long since I posted. Things kind of, well, got a little "Desperate" for a bit there. Ever have that feeling?

We are just 10 days away from the official start to our community and reading schedule! Hope y'all are as excited as I am!

I wanted to share a post from another blog, Emily is giving away 3 copies of Desperate!! Head on over and look!! If you don't have your copy, or if you would like one for your friend, this is a lovely post along with a giveaway!

Can't wait to get started!

Share with us, have you had any "Desperate" moments lately?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Be Still...and KNOW

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
~Psalm 46:10
NIV 84

Ever feel like a certain verse is following you everywhere? In our current Bible study, Cultivating a Heart of Prayer by Wendy Blight, this was one of the verses we reflected on. For the last four years, this is a verse that my mom quotes to me...OFTEN. Anytime I worry, she speaks it. Anytime I get upset, she speaks it. 

Four years ago she bought me a plaque for my wall with this verse on it. Fast forward to a move, and it didn't get to go with us. I forgot it. So, when she came to stay with us for a couple months, guess what? She bought me a magnet with this verse on it. I have two little girls, currently 4 and 6 years old. Anything on the refrigerator is free game. They broke the magnet. I was devastated. 

My OBS sister quotes this verse to me as well. Imagine my surprise when I found this GIANT picture, (see above), on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I snapped a picture and sent it to my friend. She was hopeful I was going to buy it. I did. Small plaque to small magnet to GIANT picture. Was Someone trying to get a message across to me?

We reflected some upon Mary and Martha, see Luke 10:38-42, both in this study and in our previous Online Bible study. The message was loud and clear THEN...what could I learn from it now? I thought I took some time off to be a Mary, what was I missing? I even used this example in the last teaching I did for the OBS. What am I not understanding? Why is this Psalm following me everywhere?

So, I pray and I ponder. Yes, Martha is a busy bee. Sometimes I think she gets more grief from us than Jesus gave her. I can hear the kindness in His voice as He points out her mistake. He empathizes with her. He KNOWS she is worried and troubled, and in His grace, He points out WHY she is so worried and troubled. You see, to me, she only wanted to serve her Savior--to the best of her ability. She wanted everything right for Him. She wanted the best of everything for Him. To her, Mary should have been up serving Him too, not leaving all of the work to her. In all of His compassion, He reminds her that Mary CHOSE what was NEEDED. 

As I reflected on this, another verse came to mind, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 NKJV)

Mary CHOSE the better part by allowing Jesus to SERVE her. To minister to her. To speak words of truth into her. He knew that His life would be given for the sins of the world and He wanted to spend time speaking truth into and serving others. Just like in the story of the feet washing in John 13:1-15, Jesus told them in verse 15 that He had given them an example to follow. But notice what happened first. The disciples were SERVED by Jesus, before they were given instructions to SERVE

There is a time for serving, and there is a time for sitting. However, can we also not worry about the "preparations" before sitting? Martha was worried and troubled about much preparing and much so that she didn't sit at His feet. How many times I have had the intention to sit before my Lord, but got busy with much preparation--routines, checklists, get out all my Bible study tools, read this devotional....oh wait! I didn't start with prayer! I read the wrong day in the devotional! I'm behind in the study. But, I better do it quietly lest I wake the children up. By the time I am finished preparing, inevitably one of the children DO wake-up. The whole "sitting" thing? Gone. Lost in a moment of worry and trouble over how it should look. This was a whole new revelation for my life, packed into two seemingly unrelated verses. One in the Old Testament, and one in the New. 

Be still (Literally, in the Hebrew, slacken, abate, cease).....and know....(be aware of)

Love in the House by Chris and Wendy Jeub~a Book Review

(Image courtesy of Amazon)

After finishing up three of my book selections for the year, I decided to "jump ship" and read some extra books not listed. Several "freebies" were announced for Kindle, and some sweet friends recommended a few. So, off on a rabbit trail I went. I tend to be drawn towards life stories, especially those with a meaning in them--living out their faith in Christ.

The first one, free for a time but now back up to $9.95 for the Kindle, has been an amazing read! I would pay the full price for it--yeah, it's that good.

You see, I have been obsessed enamored with large families for many years now. One of my favorite shows is 19 Kids and Counting, starring the Duggar family. Odd since I am an only child and that I "only" have 4 kids. Anyhoo-I have always been a fan of these shows and movies. Kids by the Dozen (which featured the Jeub family), 19 Kids and Counting, United Bates of America, John and Kate plus 8, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Yours, Mine and Ours. 

The first three of these shows listed are some of the most uplifting, encouraging shows you will ever watch. I know we only see what is on TV, and families have problems that we DON'T see, yet it is such an encouragement for me to sit down and watch something inspiring. Something that prods me deep within and challenges me just a little.

I have heard of the Jeub Family before, mainly from the show Kids by the Dozen. When I saw a few homeschooling pages that I follow on Facebook mentioning this book was currently free, I jumped on it! And, let me tell you, I have not regretted it one bit!

Love in the House by Chris and Wendy Jeub is a book of encouragement. Not only does it tell their story, and includes some tips for large families, but it's central theme is love. Love for God and love for others. This isn't a modern day parenting book offering you "Ten Steps to Taming Your Child" or something promising you no fail parenting tips. It is quite simply, a book about love. Does it include "suggestions" for parents? YES! But they are not formulas promising you a better behaved child in only 10 days. It's all about loving your child. Showing grace to your child, yet disciplining them in LOVE. It is filled with Scriptures to back up their belief, one of the most important being Jesus' statement that the greatest command is to love God, and equally important, to love one another. To not "exasperate" your child (yep, this is Scriptural too!).

The Jeub's have a wonderful way with words. They have a wonderful heart for the greatest commandment--LOVE. They tell of a story of their "prodigal" child and how it was LOVE that brought them back together again. Sound similar to the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24?

I have read both books from the Duggar Family, and am anxiously awaiting "Growing Up Duggar" by the oldest Duggar girls. It isn't due out until March of next year though. 

These families share so many wonderful, easy tips. Yet, unlike modern parenting books, they are filled with grace and love. They are filled with dealing more with your child's heart than dealing with a "behavior" or "discipline" problem. They seek to turn the child's heart towards Jesus, and towards their family. Believe me when I say it--you will be blessed by these families!!!

Our "Vision Statement" in our homeschool, is this:
Philippians 4:8~ Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. (NKJV)

Whether choosing homeschool curriculum, or things to watch or read, I try to remember this verse and gauge it by. To be legalistic? NO. I know how focusing on wrong things makes me feel-sad, depressed, angry, etc.--so I am CHOOSING to focus on the lovely things in life.

How "big" is your family? Have you found modern day parenting books/formulas to be a "waste"? Are you ready to LOVE your child and turn their hearts towards love? 

Share some of your favorite inspirational books/quotes/movies with us!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Lesson in Service and Salvation From My Children

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example,
that you should do as I have done to you.
(John 13:1-15 NKJV)

What does serving look like? Is it always front page news? Does it take you to the ends of the earth? Is it providing physical, spiritual and emotional help? The answer? Yes-all of these qualify as serving. But can it be much more personal as well? Serving those around you? Those in your own family? Blooming where you are planted and maybe somewhere else when God will open a door?

I learned a lesson yesterday in service. A big one. You see, I have been involved in some aspect of Women's Ministry for the last 2 years. I love the opportunities God has given me, and even more, I love the women I get to serve and those I serve alongside of. However, yesterday, service took on a whole new light for me.

We had a busy, fun-filled weekend. We went to some festivals and to an amazing outdoor concert featuring a favorite band of ours, Sidewalk Prophets. Late nights and early mornings made us a little cranky though. The kids and I were short with each other on those early mornings. Not good.

Sunday night, the girls were playing at the concert. We were in Alabama, and if I have learned one thing from my time "farther down South", it is this: the grass is hard, (and sparse), and the dirt is dusty--almost sand like in texture. Back home the grass is smooth enough to lay on and the dirt--well, it's dirt. Usually hard, but not like sand. The girls had on flip-flops and were spinning around and playing on the playground. We got home really late and the girls fell asleep in the car, so we tucked them in bed.

Fast forward--Monday morning. Wanting to sleep in from a late night, it was not to be so. Not by my standards anyway (lol). As my precious 4 year old crawled up in bed with me that morning, I noticed her feet. Filthy. As in, this stuff was stuck on good!! We have a quilt on our bed that is blue and white. A lot of white. I hollered for her sister and told them that we were going to wash their feet in the sink before we did anything else.

As I placed my sweet girl on that sink and ran the water, reflections began to run through my mind. As I washed her tiny feet, I remembered Jesus washing His disciples feet. How loving and kind of a gesture. The Savior, the Lord of the entire universe, kneeled down and washed His disciple's feet. What an amazing image. As I scrubbed a little bit harder, it also reminded me of how thick our sin is, how stubborn of a stain it is. Scrubbing their feet brought to mind the cleansing of our sins that Jesus, by His shed blood on the cross, did for us. As I finished washing their feet, sparkly clean again, it was a lesson to me in both service and salvation.

Service? Because Jesus came to serve. That was His life mission. To seek and save the lost. 

Mark 20:27-28 reminds us: And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (NKJV). 

It reminded me that my job is to serve. Wholeheartedly. WHEREVER God has put me at this moment. My family is my first mission field, the ones I should serve first. As God has made available, my next acts of service are to those around me and in whatever ministry I am a part of. It also reminded me that I NEED to be served BY Jesus as well. Can't be a Martha all the time, I need to be a Mary too!

Salvation? Because as I stood there, it took a lot of work to scrub away all of that dirt and mud (from sweaty feet). As I washed, I watched the water in the sink slowly turning brown. After I finished scrubbing their feet and they were nice and clean, I didn't want them putting their feet back down in that "dirty" water lest they get filthy again. It reminded me of the cleansing power of Jesus. It reminded me of His blood. He takes us, washes away all of our sin, and doesn't want us to put our feet back down in that "dirty water" again. He promises to help keep us clean by the Holy Spirit indwelling within us. He lovingly pats us dry, as I did my girl's feet, and sets us on solid ground. 

One MAJOR difference: My girl's are kids--they love to play. They will get their feet dirty again. I will have to scrub them again. And while we may mess up in our Christian walk, Jesus continually cleanses us. His sacrifice was ONCE and it was enough to cleanse our sins. No more "scrubbing" needed--that was finished on the cross. The Holy Spirit dwells within us to help and teach us.

Isaiah 1:18~ "Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool...." (NKJV)

The Blessing by John Waller:

CHOOSE to be a blessing!! What are some lessons that your children have taught you? What are some ways you have been called to serve? Share with us!!

Linking up with some amazing blogs:

B.O.W. Book Club & Schedule

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
~Proverbs 14:1

Hello ladies! Sorry it has been a little quiet around here lately, I have been spending a lot of time in thought and in prayer. Seeking the direction not only for this venture, but my life in general. Many things have been tossed my way and lain heavy on my heart lately. They have required lots of prayer and reflection. I'm still not sure of the answers, but in His time, He will lead me in the way to go. We have also been super busy with a weekend full of fun activities with the kiddos!

As you know, the majority chose Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson as the reading for this time. This is something else that has lay heavy on my heart. Many of us long for a real life mentor, one in the flesh. Busy demands and a change of lifestyle have made this complicated at best. I am a mama in the throws of parenting--my oldest is 15, my youngest is 4. I am right there with you. So many 'virtual' friendships these days. It tugs at my heart. Being a rather shy person in real life, (around new people anyway--I trip over my tongue lol), and not wanting to 'bother' anyone...finding a mentor is a difficult subject. This book touches on that and gives some great advice on how to seek one out.

I am thankful for a lady that I met through a Bible Study at church. While we don't talk quite as much as we used to, or I would like to, I know that I can count on her to give me godly advice and lots of love. We are both in difficult seasons in our lives. She means the world to me. With all of that said, here is the 'tenative' schedule of Built on Wisdom, fondly labeled B.O.W.

The study starts July 19th. On this day, there will be a short introduction.

Hopefully, most weeks will run in this manner:

Saturday~ This is the day that I will post the book reading assignments/extras. We are doing one chapter at a time, so that gives plenty of time during the week so you don't feel rushed/miss out on real life with your family. 

Monday~ Occasionally, Sally Clarkson has a fabulous series on her blog, I Take Joy, called "Mentoring Mondays." From time to time, I will link that series, or something else of inspiration for what we are discussing.

Wednesday~ In the back of the Desperate book, there is a link to a video with Sarah and Sally. This would be a wonderful day to watch that, or you can do it when you finish the chapters

Thursdays~ This will be the day to share FUN stuff! Easy craft ideas, recipes, tips, etc. for the weekend. This gives you plenty of time to get anything that is needed. This is only optional, but makes for some fun times with your kiddos!!

Fridays~ This will be the day for digging deeper. We have a Facebook group started, and if you are interested, you can like my page in the top right corner and let me know there. If not, we will still throw out some questions on the blog. Book/Bible discussions, etc. There are some fabulous questions in the back of the book.

All in all, I want this to be something that draws us close to the Lord and each other, gives fun ideas, and helps us to grow in our roles as mothers. This is part of my heart, you see. Growing in my God given role as a mother, leaning on Him to teach me how.